What if I told you the hardest part of getting a discount is asking for one? Once you learn how to ask for a discount, you’ll be amazed at how much money you can save.
Here, we show you how to ask for a lower price on everything from bills to everyday goods, so that the next time you’re shopping, you feel empowered to ask for one yourself!
How to ask for a discount 101
I used to think that if I asked for a cheaper price, I would offend the store owner or seller. I presumed that they would turn me away and I’d miss my opportunity to buy the item.
And I was scared of how the salesperson would perceive me, so I would leave without ever asking about the options.
Eventually, with practice, I got over that fear. I’m here to help you get over it, too, and learn how to buy the things you want for a lower cost.
Here’s how to ask for a cheaper price on anything!
1. It’s all about your attitude
The first step for how to ask for a discount is all about how you act. It’s as simple as being nice. For most people, this is how you operate anyway, so it’s not much of a tip.
But it can be a good reminder that how you treat the person you’re asking for a favor (in this case, a lower price) can go a long way.
Assuming acting kindly and politely is how you would go about things anyway, there’s another aspect to your demeanor that is key, and that’s your confidence. When asking for a discount, you are not doing anything wrong!
Don’t shy away, hide, or speak softly. If you’re going to go for it, ask with confidence as if you are expecting a yes answer.
Acting confidently, even if you don’t feel it, causes others to think of you more positively and they might be more receptive to your request.
2. Talk to the right person
The teenage sales clerk helping you find the perfect gift for your niece might be great at their job. But, it’s unlikely they’ll have the authority to give you a cheaper price on that gift. While it never hurts to ask, it’s always best to ask the right person.
If the first person you ask says they can’t do anything for you, ask them if there’s a manager available. If there isn’t, ask when they will be back so you can follow up.
Sometimes, paying less means returning to a store later when the right person is around. If you have the time and patience, you might find you can save a lot of money this way.
This works when on the phone with customer service, too. Often, the first person you speak with will not have the authority to give you a lower cost. Ask to speak with their supervisor and you might have better luck getting that bargain.
3. Ask if there are any coupons or sales or discounts going on
Whenever you enter a store, make a beeline to the first salesperson you see and ask about their current discounts or coupons. This way, you’ll be able to shop with an eye toward the sales.
Sometimes they’ll tell you there’s no promotion going on, and most people will leave it at that. But, not you, since you’re on the hunt for a more affordable price!
Instead of dropping it, ask if they have any upcoming promotions. If there is one, ask if they’d be willing to apply it to your purchase today.
If they say no, and you have the patience and time, you can always ask them to hold the item for you until the sale is on and then you can go back and make your purchase.
4. Negotiate the price
Don’t be scared to negotiate for what you want! While it’s harder to negotiate in places like a chain store where prices are pretty fixed, there are plenty of places where negotiation comes in handy.
What is one situation where negotiation can save you tons of money? I’ve found that one of the best times to negotiate is when signing up for services, like cable.
Never take the first offer, as you can almost always get something else added to sweeten your deal, whether it’s a less expensive price or a free service.
For example, you might suggest that you’re going to drop your cable TV services unless they offer you something in return for staying a customer.
They will likely offer to add a free phone line or upgrade your wireless bandwidth so that they don’t lose you as a customer.
5. Offer to pay in cash
Like negotiation, offering to pay in cash doesn’t exactly work in a place like Target, but it definitely does when you’re paying for services. Some sellers may offer a cash discount if you pay early.
Even more ways to ask for a discount!
The above tips will certainly save you lots of money. But there are even more ways to pay less, such as:
1. Ask for a price match after your purchase
While getting the cheapest price at the outset is the least amount of work, don’t assume the price you paid is the final one. Many stores offer a price match after you buy an item.
How does this work? If an item goes on sale or the price is slashed, a store offering price matching will refund you the difference between the price you paid and the sale price.
It takes a little extra work, but if you keep monitoring the price of an item, you can get that bargain after the fact.
Don’t wait too long, however, as the price match is usually only valid within about 30 days after your original purchase.
2. Ask for fees to be waived after the fact
You can even ask for a discount on things like unexpected fees. For example, have you ever gotten a $20 bank charge for a one-time transaction, like a wire transfer? Most people grumble and let it go, never asking for the bank to waive the fee.
But, if you call up your bank, they are likely to waive the fee if you just ask! This works for other types of services, too, like fees associated with your utilities.
3. Ask about student, law enforcement, military, or healthcare worker discounts
If you’re a student, in law enforcement or the military, or are a healthcare worker, extra discounts abound.
Many times, these cheaper prices are listed in obvious places or you’re even asked at checkout if you are in one of those categories.
Sometimes, however, the discount is not so obvious. How to ask about a cheaper price when it isn't advertised? It’s quite simple – just ask! If you’re shopping online, use the chat function and wait to talk to a real person.
Let them know you’re in school and ask if they have a student discount. Even if a store doesn’t officially offer them, they will often send you a special code to use on your purchase.
Asking for a discount – how it’s worked for me
Interested in learning how asking for a discount has worked for me in real life? Here are just three of the many ways I’ve recently used the tips above to save me tons.
Lower prices on lodging
The biggest discounts I’ve ever received have been on Airbnb stays. My biggest travel tip to save money is to never settle for the price Airbnb shows at checkout.
Instead, send a message to the host and ask if they can lower the price (or suggest a price yourself). The worst that they can do is say no.
I’ve had success doing this, especially for longer-term stays where the host is happy to have one guest instead of managing multiple bookings, so it’s a win-win for both parties.
Cheaper medical bills
Medical bills are some of the most complex and daunting bills around. For one procedure, you might receive one bill from the hospital, another from the doctor, and still another from a separate doctor. This happened to me and it shocked me how much the bills cost, even with my insurance coverage.
In the past, I would have left it at that and paid the bills, but I decided to call the billing department of three separate offices and ask for a discount.
I told them I couldn’t afford the full price and they not only offered me a lower price, but I was able to pay in monthly installments instead of paying all at once.
Getting a “locals discount”
For a year, I lived in a town full of tourists and reaped the benefits of being a local. For anyone who lives in an area with plenty of vacationers, this tip is for you!
When you are dining out or shopping, ask if the restaurant, bar, or store offers a lower price for locals.
During that year of living in a tourism hot spot, I regularly received 10% off at my favorite restaurant and even got a 10% locals discount on my wedding band!
When not to ask for a discount
Knowing how to ask for a discount is good, but it might not always be something you want to do.
While it’s up to everyone’s individual comfort level, there are some situations where I normally never ask about paying less.
At places such as one-person-owned Etsy shops, small businesses, or street fairs, I am usually happy to pay the asking price to support the shop.
Another area I never ask for a cheaper price? International markets where the prices of items are usually already very low and haggling over a dollar or two doesn’t feel right.
Again, this isn’t about judgment, but there is a time and a place for lower prices and a time and place for paying full price. Where those places are is totally up to you.
Put these tips into practice and learn how to ask for a discount!
Hopefully, you now know a little bit more about how to ask for a lower price and have the confidence to do so.
A great attitude goes a long way, as does the simplest tip of all – just ask and see what you receive in return!